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Melbourne Storm Scandal Stuns Rugby League
Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two NRL premierships and fined a total of $1.6 million after being found guilty of long-term salary cap breaches.
NRL Chief Executive David Gallop announced yesterday that the club would also not be allowed to accrue any premiership points in the 2010 season.
Gallop said the Storm had been found to have broken the salary cap by at least $1.7 million over five years.
Gallop stated "they had a long term system of effectively two sets of books and the elaborate lengths they have gone through to cover this up has been extraordinary.
"The club has furthermore been fined $500,000 and will be forced to return $1.1 million in prize money with the prize money being distributed evenly among the other 15 clubs."
The investigations revealed the Storm maintained a dual contract system, with the club confirming that side letters promising extra payments were stored in a secret file.
Gallop added "the most damning indictment is the systematic attempt by persons within the club to conceal payments from the salary cap auditor and, it would now seem certain from the club's board and from its owners, on an ongoing basis.
"It was through this system that they were able to attract and retain some of the biggest names in rugby league.
"In doing so they have let down the game, the players and the fans of the Melbourne Storm."
The $1.7 million is understood to have been channeled via payments for a marquee used for corporate entertainment at Storm home games.
Over five years the Storm paid twice for the marquee, booking a superfluous $20,000 payment for each game for something they already received as part of their ground-hire contract.
John Hartigan, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Storm's owner News Limited, said the company had referred the matter to police and installed respected rugby league administrator Frank Stanton as caretaker Chief Executive of the Storm.
"This club has had a couple of rats in its ranks",Hartigan explained, adding that the deception had been concealed from News Ltd.
Considerable attention is expected to focus on former Storm Chief Executive Brian Waldron who joined the Melbourne Rebels Super 15 rugby franchise in January.
2nd December 2009 - RUGBY LEAGUE TO LAUNCH MELBOURNE’S RECTANGULAR STADIUM
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